By Raju Shanbhag
TMCnet Contributing Editor
Apple (News - Alert) reportedly is in talks with New Corp’s Twentieth Century Fox to offer that studio’s movies as digital rentals through the iTunes Store.
The partnership would be beneficial to Fox, Wall Street Journal said in a Thursday report, as a way to increase distribution of titles it releases to DVDs. Fox already is on board with Apple’s digital rights management system, which allows consumers to make legal copies of discs that can be played on iPods or other portable media devices.
If it occurs, the partnership would be a victory for Apple, Wall Street Journal said, because the company has been working hard to convince movie studios to try out the digital rental model. The system works by allowing users to download, for a fee, movies through iTunes and then play them for a limited span of time.
So far major Hollywood studios have been resistant to the idea of digital rentals. Wall Street Journal said studios in general are distrustful of the Internet as a media distribution channel. Studios worry about unauthorized copying of newly released movies, which eats into profits. The fear is that if they try out digital rentals, studios may be encouraging more unauthorized copying.
Yet, Apple already is selling movies through iTunes that consumers can keep permanently, and the system seems to work pretty well. Titles are available from Walt Disney Co. (both new releases and catalog titles) and Paramount Pictures (News - Alert) (only older titles).
A partnership with Fox, Wall Street Journal noted, would be an important win for Apple because so far movie sales via iTunes have been lackluster compared to the company’s success selling music. A vote of confidence from a major studio could be just what Apple needs to get things going.
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Raju Shanbhag is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Raju’s articles, please visit his columnist page.